Do you think you have shin splints, but not quite sure? Well in this article I’ll take you through the most common shin splints symptoms to help you decipher what’s happening to your legs! And if you are worried that you have shin splints then don't! I'm here to guide you through how to get rid of shin splints.
Too often new runners are suddenly struck down by some form of shin splints. The problem is, you just don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s why new runners are often oblivious to the fact that they are teetering on the edge of a shin splints breakout!
The key is to pick up the early signs of shin splints symptoms. Then you can intervene with targeted shin splints treatment before it’s too late. So lets get started and take a look at some common symptoms.
Shin Splints Symptoms #1:
A dull throbbing ache in the front outside part of the lower leg.
This is a very common symptom of shin splints mainly because new starters have weak running muscles. The Tibialis Anterior muscle is located on the outside of the shin bone and is mainly used to dorsiflex (toes pointing up) your ankle as you run or walk.
If you push yourself too hard too soon, this muscle will quickly fatigue. It’s when this happens and you keep going that the damage starts to occur. Because your body will compensate for the fatigued muscle by putting extra load on other joints, tendons and ligaments.
Shin Splints Symptoms #2:
Mild swelling in your lower leg.
Swelling isn’t unusual immediately after exercise. But be mindful if the swelling persists, especially if it’s still there the next day. We don’t all look at our legs all day (if at all) so it could be something you miss.
Spend a few minutes before exercise inspecting your legs so you have a baseline to go off. If you are already super familiar with the regular shape and condition of your legs then you can probably skip this step.
Shin Splints Symptoms #3:
Pain on the inside of the shin bone.
This is one of the classic shin splints symptoms. If you feel pain when you run your fingers along the inside of the shin bone it is highly likely that there are micro tears in the periosteal tissue.
This is the tissue that connects the muscles to the bone. However, as long as you don’t continue to pound the pavement, it will heal relatively quickly.
Shin Splints Symptoms #4:
Sore or tender muscles around the shin and lower calves.
You may not have any of the other symptoms yet. But they could be just around the corner if you continuously suffer from sore or tender muscles around the shins and calves.
As I stated earlier, the body will begin to compensate to protect these injured or fatigued muscles. In doing so there will be more load placed on other joints which could lead to more shin splint symptoms.
Shin Splints Symptoms #5:
Your shins feel hot or inflamed.
One of the earliest signs you’ll get is the feeling of hotness or inflammation around your shins. Apply some ice and continue to monitor it.
Shin Splints Symptoms #6:
The overlying skin is a bit red.
You may notice that your shins are hot or inflamed. Or perhaps you notice a bit of swelling, then it’s very likely that the skin will be discolored slightly in the same region.
This is your body reacting to the damage by increasing the blood flow to the affected area to begin the healing process.
Shin Splints Symptoms #7:
Numbness or weakness in the feet.
Everybody is unique and will react slightly different when suffering a mild case of shin splints. So if you start to feel numbness or pins and needles in your feet, don’t be too alarmed. Heed the warning and give yourself some timeout to assess the problem.
However if you continue to feel numbness in your feet then you may have some other problem that needs specialist attention.
A few more shin splints symptoms to consider…
So normally you’ll start to notice some discomfort pretty soon after starting exercise. It may feel like a bit of a dull and achy sensation to start with. You may even find that the pain will subside while your still exercising. Also you should notice the pain gradually decrease while your resting.
Most of the time it’ll affect both shins the same, otherwise there could potentially be other underlying problems such as leg length discrepancy.
And you should feel the pain over a fairly large part of the shin (around 5cm across). If you feel a sharp pain in one specific spot along the shin bone, this could potentially be the beginning of a stress fracture.
One of the biggest contributing factors in becoming a confident, well rounded and injury free athlete is to develop the ability to get highly in-tune with your body. Learn about the muscle composition of the legs, find out which muscles play a primary role in the running technique and strengthen them! Have a read of this article I wrote about shin splint stretches. Specifically how to implement a flexibility and strengthening program into your routine.
With a bit more experience you’ll notice the smallest difference in the way you feel during and after runs. You’ll also discover how much rest you need between exercise to allow your body to heal.
But when your just starting out, take time to physically assess yourself frequently. Gently press, squeeze and probe around to look for sore or tender spots. Lookout for all the shin splint symptoms we’ve talked about in this article and stay on top of it!
But most importantly, don’t give up! Just about all pro athletes have been through this phase in the initial stages of their careers. It is a temporary phase that you will grow out of with persistence. And once you get going, running can be like therapy for your mind and body. So whatever you do, don’t let shin splints hold you back.
Oh and one last thing...
I've created the below Diagnosis Quiz to help you assess YOUR particular injury so that you can take action immediately with appropriately targeted treatment.
So get started, take the quiz and find out what type of shin splints you have. And if you have any questions, thoughts or comments I would love to hear them! Just leave a comment below…
To Your Happy & Healthy Future…